The Real United Methodist Crisis: Loss of U.S. Political Power to the Growing Church in Africa

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Equal Representation

It is nothing less than shameful that we do not give equal representation to our African brothers and sisters. Their bishops should represent on average the same number of members as American bishops. Their annual conferences should have equal representation of delegates at all conferences and on all boards. Pay and financing for bishops should be equal too. I was part of a group that was asked to evaluate the new social principles. My sub group was asked to evaluate how people in other parts of the world would view the proposed principles. As a white American how am I to know how Africans view the changes. Had their been representation on the committee drawing them up then they would have known what the Africans thought. Africans represent 38% of our church but make up only a fraction of the members on any of the boards of our agencies. They should represent 40% of any committee. Who cares what country people are from. Our church should fairly be run by people from all of our member nations. We shamefully treat Africans like we treated black Americans in the old central conference. I have one disagreement with this article however. Traditionalists by and large are very supportive of our African brothers who share mostly a common theology with us. If anyone is blocking them in equal representation it is the progressives. I hope everyone will support a resolution to GC 2020 that calls for African and Asian equality on all boards and in number of bishops.

Scott 363 days ago

Amen

Scott, I agree with all you've said. That our brothers and sisters from Africa (and other central conferences, most of which are growing) are so drastically underrepresented in global boards and agencies, episcopal leadership, and general conference representation is embarrassing and reprehensible. We know of one bishop who's dismissed the generally traditional theology of the African conferences by wishing "they'd just grow up." For three quadrennia I've listened to progressive voices resist giving greater decision-making voice to our African brothers and sisters for fear of losing tightly-held control, often rationalized with arguments that the larger financial contributions from North America should provide a concomitantly larger voice. A paternalistic cultural imperialism intent on "civilizing" the African church is pervasive among so many who claim to be "open minded." Likewise, many of the calls by self-described liberals or progressives for a global reorganization that permits "contextualization" is merely Orwellian doublespeak for a movement to isolate the U.S. portion of the church from the oversight of a worldwide church whose center of population (and theology) is found in the Global South. Kipling's "White Man's Burden" persists.

John 363 days ago


Notable Quotes   

   Retired Bishop William Willimon“Part of being in a church is to be with people that you don’t agree with and many of whom you don’t like. As a bishop, I should be the person saying, ‘I’m going to make it as hard as I can for [this division to occur].’”

– Retired Bishop Will Willimon, quoted in the Duke Chronicle, the student newspaper of UMC-related Duke University.

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